Gossip Site JuicyCampus Defends 'Anonymous Free Speech' - InformationWeek

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3/31/2008
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Gossip Site JuicyCampus Defends 'Anonymous Free Speech'

Several states are investigating the Web site, which allows college students to anonymously post comments about other students.

A college gossip Web site under investigation in two states denies that it has engaged in any wrongdoing.

JuicyCampus posted a statement on its Web site saying that it had not violated any laws. The Web site allows college students to anonymously post comments about students' purported sexual experiences, as well as information about race and other attributes, often naming them and stating where they live.

New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram recently subpoenaed the Nevada-based Web site operator, Lime Blue, saying she wants to determine whether JuicyCampus violates the Consumer Fraud Act by suggesting it prohibits offensive material, while failing to remove posts.

JuicyCampus' home page announces: "C'mon. Give us the juice. Posts are totally, 100% anonymous." Recent postings included an offer for free sexual favors and promised a photo.

The site's terms and conditions state that it may remove offensive content that is abusive, obscene, or an invasive of people's privacy, "but the site apparently lacks tools to report or dispute this material," Milgram's office said.

A New Jersey subpoena requests an explanation of how JuicyCampus selects "supported campuses" featured on its site, how users' school affiliation is verified, and how it enforces the use of parental consent forms for users under 18. A second subpoena from that state requests information about the business relationship between the Web site and AdBrite, a San Francisco online advertising company that advertises on the site.

Specifically, investigators want to know how JuicyCampus represents itself, as well as the types of ads and advertising keywords it requests.

New Jersey investigators also sent a letter to Google seeking information about the company's relationship with JuicyCampus. Google no longer places ads on the site through its AdSense service.

Connecticut authorities are also investigating the site, and their counterparts in California are considering action.

The Web site's operators did not respond to a request for comment. The Web site contains a statement saying it's devoted to promoting "anonymous free speech." A separate statement explains that the First Amendment protects parody.

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